Do we have a fundamental right to a climate system capable of sustaining human life?
What’s the point of inheriting the Earth if it’s only going to burn (or drown)?
Kids around the world are asking governments this question and demanding answers in court. For example, on Dec. 11, Juliana v. US pitted the president and American lawmakers against the very children whose future they so often invoke when seeking votes. The kids argued that the government’s negligence in caring for the planet impedes on their rights, and it must remedy this by adopting policies that mitigate climate change.
The case is currently set to go to trial in February. The government is fighting fiercely to dismiss the matter as fast as possible—the Dec. 11 court date was to decide whether the government’s dismissal argument has any merit. But in some senses, whatever happens, it’s already a win for the 21 young Americans who are plaintiffs and their global movement. In bringing the case to the courts, the kids are challenging the world’s most prominent climate change denier, US president Donald Trump. And they are getting a chance to highlight the science that’s being ignored at their expense in the court of public opinion.
Kids v. Feds
Juliana v. US (pdf) was originally filed in an Oregon district court in 2015 by 21 minors from around the country. The youth—now ages 10 to 21—argue that by adopting policies that promote fossil fuel use, leading to the emission of carbon dioxide at rates that change the climate, despite knowing these energy sources are warming the planet, the federal government violates “the youngest generation’s constitutional rights to life, liberty, and property,” and fails to protect essential resources held in trust for the public.
The children say everything is at stake for them. “I hope that the court understands the urgency of the climate crisis and allows our case to proceed to trial,” one plaintiff, 17-year-old Jaime Butler from Flagstaff, Arizona, explained at a press conference last week (pdf). “This case will ultimately determine the livelihood of my tribe, the Navajo Nation, and all native people in this country.”
Read more at the source: Kids around the world are suing their governments for ruining the planet